Can One Save Restore Points?

System Restore regularly backs up your Windows installation, but the backups soon disappear. Robert Fiorini wants to know if there's a way to save them permanently.

Windows' built-in System Restore could be a great tool for backing up and restoring your operating system. You don't have to tell it to back anything up; it just does it. And when Windows or an application isn't working properly, System Restore can return Windows, programs, and the registry to where they all were at an earlier date, without effecting your own files.

Well, maybe it can. It's not a reliable tool.

One problem is that Windows deletes old restore points to make room for new ones. Another is that each restore point is dependent on others to work. One corrupt point renders the others unusable.

Both of these problems would be fixed if Windows gave you the option to create single, stand-alone restore points that you could save to an external drive or burn to DVDs.

But since it doesn't (are you reading this, Microsoft?), I had to go looking elsewhere. I came across this method for backing up restore points on ghacks.net, but it's complicated and not altogether reliable. What's more, it involves changing some settings that most users shouldn't change. Use at your own risk.

A wiser choice would be to make your own image backups, which protect the entire partition or drive. This is the most reliable way to protect your Windows installation that I know of. I recommend either Macrium Reflect Free or EASEUS Todo Backup; they're both dependable, easy, and free.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com , or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum . Follow Lincoln on Twitter .

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